We all know walking is great for you and most of us know we don’t do enough. Did you also know that volunteering has loads of health and wellbeing benefits too?
Part of my job is to support walking groups across Devon so i jumped at the chance to undertake my walk leader training with the Ramblers, who alongside Macmillan Cancer support, run the Walking for Health scheme nationally. This was also a necessary step towards me being able to deliver the training myself to walk leaders in Devon.
It was a hot Wednesday in June when i drove to Poundbury to do my walk leader training. If you’ve never been to Poundbury it is an experimental new town or urban extension on the outskirts of Dorchester in the county of Dorset, England.
The development is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. It is built according to the principles of Prince Charles, who is known for holding strong views challenging the post-war trends in town planning that were suburban in character.
The walk leader training
The day was 9.30 til 4 and included a half hour walk around Poundbury with the other trainees who had come from across Dorset.
Throughout the day we got to know each other and explored topics like what makes a good leader, how to complete the paperwork, tackling difficult scenarios and what makes a health walk. For example, how do you ensure that your walk is safe and inclusive and encourage people to join? All in all the day was really fun and interesting.
About 6 weeks later i got the chance to lead a short walk in Dawlish, so having recce’d the route, done a risk assessment and contacted all the walkers, we met up at Dawlish leisure centre on a day of sunshine and showers for a 30 minute walk.
At first i was worried about whether i would remember to do everything before we set off but the group was so nice and i just used a checklist to make sure i covered everything and we were off! We walked at a steady pace, ensuring that everyone stayed roughly together and soon enough all you could hear was the chatter as people got to know each other along the way. Its proven that walking makes you more creative and you could definitely hear the animation in people’s voices as they are walking and talking.
A fantastic experience that i can’t recommend enough and i can’t wait to lead my next walk!
Tom Mack – Programmes Manager